"Madea" box-office shocker!

Hollywood discovers that older black women exist, sometimes go to movies.


Rebecca Traister
March 6, 2006 10:12PM (UTC)

There was big non-Oscar news in Hollywood this weekend, as film executives made a major sociological discovery: African-American women 35 and older not only exist but can buy enough movie tickets to make a film No. 1 at the box office!

Tyler Perry's "Madea's Family Reunion" was this weekend's top-grossing film, pulling in $13 million, beating Bruce Willis vehicle "16 Blocks" and Arctic sled-dog movie "Eight Below." "Madea," the sequel to surprise success "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," cost $10 million to make, and has raked in $48 million in its first 10 days in release. According to its distributor, Lions Gate, 52 percent of the film's audience is made up of black women over 35.

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In Hollywood, a town fueled almost entirely by the desire to pull young money-spending white boys into theaters, this qualifies as the universe turning inside out. As Lions Gate distribution head Steve Rothenberg told USA Today, "That's a group that no one is catering to ... I'm not sure that Hollywood has considered it a very viable audience. But we do, and Tyler does, and obviously he has tapped into a real following."


Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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